Foundations for Communications

General Course Information

Course Lecturer Names: 

Kasey Larson & Deborah Weinheimer

Course Director Name:

Deborah Weinheimer  

Contact Information:

  • Deborah Weinheimer
    E-mail: Virtual appointments:;   Office: DES, 3rd floor; Phone: 444-4175 (ext. 3161)
  • Kasey Larson
    E-mail:; Virtual appointments:; Office: DES, 3rd floor; Phone: 444-4175 (ext. 3372)

Office Hours: All faculty appointments must be made using YouCanBookMe. Use the links above to set up individual appointments with the faculty. If the available appointment times listed on conflict with your schedule, contact the faculty through e-mail to request an alternate time.

Course Support: Instructors will host scheduled appointments and respond to e-mails during Grenadian working hours (weekdays from 08:00 – 17:00 –4 GMT). Please feel free to email the faculty at any time but note that the faculty may not be able to respond outside of working hours. While occasional responses outside of working hours will occur, this should not be expected as the norm. 

The faculty will generally respond to email within 24 working hours. If you do not hear from them within 24 working hours, feel free to follow up.

Course Curriculum Information

Course Description:   

“Foundations for Communication” (FC) is a skills-based course intended to provide communication skills necessary for success in academic pursuits at SGU. In this course, students will develop and practice the foundational skills necessary for communication in academic and scientific contexts. These skills include the development of specific language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) as well as general communication skills, critical thinking, and cultural awareness. Overall, students will gain confidence in their ability to communicate effectively through the language and culture of medicine.   

The course carries 10 credits and meets for a total of 500 minutes per week over the 16-week term, following the calendar of St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences. The course is composed of interactive, face-to-face classes and asynchronous, self-directed learning classes/assignments.  

Course Objectives:   

This course will guide student in exploring three themed sections that focus on specific skill sets: reading/writing, speaking/listening, and self-directed learning. Each themed section has separate assignments that work together to allow students to develop and apply language, skills, and strategies within a meaningful context. Active participation in all course activities will facilitate students’ achievement of the following student learning outcomes:

Student Learning Outcomes:  

  1. Utilize university services to improve student experiences.  
  2. Demonstrate cultural and professional competencies in interactions of various contexts.  
  3. Apply academic literacy and technological skills to complete course tasks and assignments.  
  4. Develop a growth mindset through reflective practices.  
  5. Apply paraphrasing and summarizing skills orally and in writing.  
  6. Construct themed paragraphs by synthesizing information from various sources.   
  7. Use formal and informal language that is appropriate for the situation.    8. Critically appraise sources for use in academic settings.  
  1. Distill information from sources to draw connections and conclusions.  
  2. Evaluate your own and others’ oral and written communication.   
  3. Modify performance and assignments using your own and others' feedback.  
  4. Develop a stance that shows comparison, causation, or persuasion orally and in writing.  

EMP Program Goals Met by This Course:  

  1. To prepare students for the medical and academic language and skills necessary to be successful at SGU and in clinical settings
  2. To extend understanding and skills for sociocultural communications in academic and medical contexts
  3. To engage in the application of critical thinking and analysis
  4. To develop and integrate skills for reading, writing, speaking and listening in an academic and medical context.

Course Materials:  

Text: There is no required textbook for this course. All course materials, including lecture videos, slides, assignment descriptions, and additional readings, will be posted in MyCourses. You will be required to utilize OneDrive and Microsoft Word through your e-mail for class assignments.

Course Management tool: To learn to use Sakai, the MyCourse management tool, access the link:  

SAS Grading Scale: Grades will be assigned as follows:  

A = 89.5% or better  

B+ = 84.5 - 89.4%  

B = 79.5 - 84.4%  

C+ = 74.5 - 79.4%  

C = 69.5 - 74.4%  

D = 64.5 - 69.4%  

F    = 64.4% or less   

Course Grading Requirement:

Students must meet the minimum academic standards for the preclinical program and maintain the minimum WMPG. Additionally, students must earn a minimum of 69.5% in each EMP English course.   

Grade Distribution

Graded Components

Percentage of Total Grade

Attendance & Professionalism


Self-directed Learning


Reading & Writing


Speaking & Listening




Course Requirements: 

Attendance and Professionalism (10%) 

Attendance and professionalism are essential in FC and will be worth 10% of the overall course grade. Student will be marked absent when arriving 10+ minutes late. Four points will be allotted for every class based on the following rubric:






Student is absent without previously alerting instructors OR joins more than 10 minutes late.

Student joined session after class start time but within 10 minutes OR left within 10 minutes of class.

Student is on time and prepared for synchronous sessions when class begins. 


Student is disruptive or unresponsive in a way that material is not processed.

Student is occasionally disruptive or unresponsive in communication and/or assignment submissions.

Student is professional in communications, is prepared for class, and submits assignments on time.

If you anticipate that you will be unable to meet the attendance or professionalism requirements, or if an unanticipated circumstance prevents you from meeting the requirements, you must notify your course instructors before the next class/deadline to be excused.

Self-directed Learning 20%

Being a self-sufficient learner contributes to student success in academic settings. To encourage more self-sufficiency, a portion of FC is fully self-directed. This means that you will be provided with guidelines and goals that you are expected to meet on your own before the assigned deadlines. Specific instructions and deadlines for completing the following goals will be posted in MyCourses: 

  • Learning Strategist (LS) Session 1, 2, 3, & 4
  • Peer Learning Group (PLG)1 & 2
  • Tech & Typing Session
  • Psychological Services Center (PSC) Appointment
  • MAC Module (block 2)       

Reading & Writing 35%

Students will participate in various written assignments and drafts, peer-review, reading activities, and reflections to assess students’ ability to provide and address feedback, engage with scientific articles, and meet course learning outcomes. The guidelines for each reading/writing assignment and their rubrics will be posted in MyCourses:

       Professional E-mail            

       Reading Strategy Reflection             

       Summary Assignment           

       Synthesis Assignment           

       Argumentative Group Essay           

Speaking & Listening 35%

Students will demonstrate their ability to meet the course learning outcomes by engaging in discussions, role plays, reflections, presentations, and debates with classmates and instructors. Students are expected to apply feedback and build on skills learned in previous assignments as the course progresses. These assignments will be evaluated using separate guidelines and rubrics found in MyCourses:

  • Professional Role Play        
  • Team Building Challenge   
  • Reflection Summary Presentation              
  • Impromptu Speech Assignment    
  • Debate         

Course Schedule*

S = Synchronous class; A = Asynchronous class; R = Reading; W = Writing; Sp = Speaking; L = Listening  



Class Topic   

Homework Assigned

Homework Due**






Jan 17   S   

Introduction, course expectations, syllabus review   


Jan 18   S   

R/W: Academic professionalism in Reading and Writing Introduction for (pre-)med school and beyond.    




Jan 19   S   

Sp/L: Formal vs. informal interactions (demeanor, language, interactions. Introduce role play and challenge assignment) 

  • Professional role play   
  • Team building challenge   



Jan 20   S   

R/W: Reading diagnostic & reading strategies    



Jan 21   S   

University services and self-directed learning expectations (Gillian Francis PLG/SL & LStrat)   

  • Register for a PLG (1)   
  • Book an LS appt to discuss scheduling (session 1) 








Jan 24   S   

Sp/L: Listening for main ideas +group interaction strategies 



Jan 25   S   

R/W: Professional Emails    



Jan 26   S   

Sp/L: Professional interaction role play 

Professional role play 




Jan 27   S   

R/W: Professional Emails continued  

Professional Email Assessment 



Jan 28   A   

Self-directed learning   

Book a LS appt to discuss note-taking (session 2) 

LS Session 1: submit schedule 







Jan 31   S   

Sp/L: Team building challenge + reflection (how did the group work go, specific examples, group discussion to reflect using interaction strategies)   

Team building reflection notes 

Team building challenge 


Feb 1   S   

R/W: Reading & Writing for Main Ideas


Professional Email Assessment 


Feb 2   S   

Sp/L: verbal summary + presentation skills 

Reflection summary presentation 

Team building reflection notes 


Feb 3   S   

R/W: Summarizing 1   



Feb 4   A   

Self-directed learning   

Typing Session 

PLG 1: submit reflection  




Feb 7-11   

PCLN Exams – No class   








Feb 14   


Sp/L: Reflection summary presentations 

Reflection summary presentation 


Feb 15   


R/W: Summarizing 2   

  • Summary Check-in   
  • Summary Assignment Draft 1   
  • Reading Strategy Reflections



Feb 16   


Sp/L: Summary presentation follow-up

(discussion about themes within groups) 



Feb 17   


R/W: Summary Assignment Workshop Day 

Summary Check-in 


Feb 18   A   

Self-directed learning   

Book LS to discuss topic of choice (session 3) 

LS Session 2: submit lecture notes







Feb 21   


Sp/L: PSC Guest Speaker (cultural differences and holding space for others)



Feb 22   


R/W: Reading & Writing for Specific Details





Feb 23   


Sp/L: Introduction to impromptu speech assignment (what is improv + brief practice) 

Impromptu speech assignment 



Feb 24   


R/W: Paraphrasing & Summary Review  

Summary Assignment Draft 1


Feb 25   A   

Self-directed learning   

Review PSC guest lecture session









Feb 28   


Sp/L: Inference (drawing conclusions and reading between the lines)   



Mar 1   


R/W: Synthesis 1   

Reading Strategy Reflection Part 1


Mar 2   


Sp/L: Improvisation activities     



Mar 3   


R/W: Synthesis 2   

Summary Assignment Final 



Mar 4   A   

Self-directed learning   

Choose one MAC session (block 2) to complete during weeks 10-15

Typing/Tech session due 



Mar 7-11

Midterm Exams – No class   

Summary assignment final due Mar 11 by 11:55 PM







Mar 14   


Sp/L: Note-taking (practice listening and noting inferences and main points)   



Mar 15   


R/W: Synthesis 3   

  • Synthesis Check-in   
  • Synthesis Assessment Draft 1 



Mar 16   


Sp/L: Impromptu speech practice   



Mar 17   


R/W: Synthesis Writing Workshop Day 

Synthesis Check-in 


Mar 18   A   

Self-directed learning   

Book PLG 2 (different class) 

LS: submit session 3 reflection 







Mar 21   


Sp/L: Compare and contrast impromptu speech day   

Impromptu speech assignment due   


Mar 22   


R/W: Introduction to Argumentation  

Synthesis Assessment Draft 1 


Mar 23   


Sp/L: Impromptu speech follow-up discussion   





Mar 24   


R/W: Finding Sources and Assessing


Sources for Essay Assignment 

Reading Strategy Reflection Part 2


Mar 25   A   

Self-directed learning   

Book LS to discuss topic of choice (session 4) 

PSC: Submit reflection 







Mar 28   


Sp/L: Introduction to debate assignment (choose topic)   

Debate assignment 



Mar 29   


R/W: General Essay Format &


Synthesis Assessment Final  



Mar 30   


Sp/L: Verbal arguments (ethos, pathos, logos)   





Mar 31   


R/W: The MEAL Plan    

Sources for Essay Assignment 


Apr 1   A   

Self-directed learning   

PLG 2: Submit reflection 



Apr 4-8   

PCLN Exams – No class   

Synthesis assessment final due Apr 8 by 11:55 PM 









Apr 11   


Sp/L: Politely disagreeing (rebuttals) 



Apr 12   


R/W: Analysis & Counterarguments  



Apr 13   


Sp/L: Intro to debate (structure, rebuttals vs.




Apr 14   


R/W: More on Analysis and Conclusions 

Argumentative Essay Check-in - Outline






Argumentative Group Essay Draft




Apr 15   

Good Friday – No class   








Apr 18   

Holy Monday – No class   



Apr 19   


R/W: Inferencing & Argumentative Essay Workshop Day    

Argumentative Essay Check-in – Outline  


Apr 20   


Sp/L: Debate Skills (note-taking, tone & bias)   




Apr 21   


R/W: Argumentative Essay Workshop Day




Apr 22   A   

Self-directed learning   

LS: submit session 4 reflection 







Apr 25   


R/W/Sp/L: Workshop - Debate and Persuasion Assignments   

  Argumentative Group Essay Final                                                             

Argumentative Group Essay Draft



Apr 26   


Sp/L: Debate     

Debate Group 1 Outline & Peer Evaluation


Apr 27   


Sp/L: Debate   


Debate Group 2 Outline & Peer Evaluation




Apr 28   


R/W/Sp/L: Course Wrap-up   

Reading Strategy Reflection Part 3


Apr 29   A   

Self-directed learning   

MAC session passed (all sessions and assignments completed)



May 2-6   

Final Exams – No class   

Argumentative group essay final due May 4 by 11:55 PM


* Schedule may change throughout the term. All changes will be announced in class and updated on the syllabus.  

** Homework is due 5 minutes before the start of class time on the day it is due, unless otherwise stated.  

School of Arts and Sciences Master Syllabi — Info for All Sections

Plagiarism Policy

Academic Integrity

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Plagiarism is regarded as a cardinal offense in academia because it constitutes theft of the work of someone else, which is then purported as the original work of the plagiarist. Plagiarism draws into disrepute the credibility of the Institution, its faculty, and students; therefore, it is not tolerated” (p. 48).

Plagiarism also includes the unintentional copying or false accreditation of work, so double check your assignments BEFORE you hand them in.

Be sure to do good, honest work, credit your sources and reference accordingly and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. Plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with very seriously following the university’s policies on Plagiarism as outlined in the Student Manual.

Your work may be subject to submission to plagiarism detection software, submission to this system means that your work automatically becomes part of that database and can be compared with the work of your classmates.

Attendance Requirement

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

Students are expected to attend all classes and or clinical rotations for which they have registered. Although attendance may not be recorded at every academic activity, attendance may be taken randomly. Students’ absence may adversely affect their academic status as specified in the grading policy. If absence from individual classes, examinations, and activities, or from the University itself is anticipated, or occurs spontaneously due to illness or other extenuating circumstances, proper notification procedures must be followed. A particular course may define additional policies regarding specific attendance or participation” (p. 9).

Examination Attendance

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

All matriculated students are expected to attend all assigned academic activities for each course currently registered. Medical excuses will be based on self-reporting by students. Students who feel they are too sick to take an examination or other required activity on a specific day must submit the online SAS medical excuse, which is available on Carenage. Students are only allowed two such excuses a year. Upon consultation with the Director of University Health Service, the third excuse will result in a mandatory medical leave of absence. The policies regarding make-up examinations are at the option of the Course Director” (p.46).

For additional specific examination policies and procedures, refer to the St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020), pages 31 through 37.

Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services Policy

The St. George’s University Student Manual (2019/2020) states as follows:

A student with a disability or disabling condition that affects one or more major life activities, who would like to request an accommodation, must submit a completed application form and supporting documentation to the Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) located in the Dean of Students Office. It is highly recommended that students applying for accommodations do so at least one month before classes begin to allow for a more efficient and timely consideration of the request. If a fully completed application is not submitted in a timely fashion, an eligibility determination may not be made, and accommodations, where applicable, may not be granted prior to the commencement of classes and/or examinations” (p. 8).


It is the responsibility of the student to read and understand the policies, laws, rules and procedures that while they could affect your grade for a course, have not been specifically outlined in the course syllabus. These are contained in the St. George’s University Student Manual.